Now that we are well into the cold and flu season many of us have tried, or are trying, every cold remedy in the book to get rid of the common cold. Do you ever wonder if your cold remedy is really working? Below you will find out which remedies work and which ones don’t.
- Water and other fluids. Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration.
- Saltwater. A saltwater gargle can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
- Saline nasal drops and sprays. Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays combat stuffiness and congestion.
- Chicken soup. Chicken soup might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, and it helps relieve congestion.
- Over-the-counter cold and cough medications in older children and adults. Nonprescription decongestants and pain relievers offer some symptom relief, but they won't prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects. If used for more than a few days, they can actually make symptoms worse.
- Antihistamines. Antihistamines may provide minor relief of several cold symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal discharge.
- Humidity. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions — another reason why colds are more common in winter. Dry air also dries the mucous membranes, causing a stuffy nose and scratchy throat.
What doesn’t work:
- Antibiotics. These attack bacteria, but they're no help against cold viruses.
- Over-the-counter cold and cough medications in young children. OTC cold and cough medications may cause serious and even life-threatening side effects in children.
- Zinc. The cold-fighting reputation of zinc has had its ups and downs. The highest quality randomized trials generally show no benefit. In studies with positive results, zinc seemed most effective taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
What probably doesn't hurt:
- Vitamin C. It appears that for the most part taking vitamin C won't help the average person prevent colds. However, taking vitamin C before the onset of cold symptoms may shorten the duration of symptoms.
- Echinacea. Studies on the effectiveness of Echinacea at preventing, or shortening, colds are mixed. If your immune system is healthy, and you aren't taking prescription medications, using Echinacea supplements is unlikely to cause harm.
Our best advice: wash your hands, and remember to clean your phone, too! I like to use those convenient cart wipes that the grocery stores now provide. We hope you find this information helpful and we wish you a healthy 2016!